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Hoeneß: German Football Federation didn't buy 2006 World Cup

Honorary President of FC Bayern Munich Uli Hoeness speaks during a press conference. Sven Hoppe/dpa
Honorary President of FC Bayern Munich Uli Hoeness speaks during a press conference. Sven Hoppe/dpa

Bayern Munich honorary president Uli Hoeneß said during a testimony on Monday that he knew nothing about the purpose of an alleged payment from French entrepreneur Robert Louis-Dreyfus to the late German football great Franz Beckenbauer.

"I don't know what the money was for," Hoeneß said and ruled out the possibility that the money was used to buy votes to award Germany the 2006 World Cup.

"FIFA was a pretty corrupt bunch back then. You could even think about buying a World Cup. But I'm still convinced that the German Football Federation (DFB) and Germany didn't do that. I'm sure of that," Hoeneß said on the fourth day of a tax evasion trial against former German football top officials.

In the trial, former DFB presidents Wolfgang Niersbach and Theo Zwanziger, as well as ex-DFB secretary general Horst R Schmidt, are charged with tax evasion because they declared a payment as operating expenses. All three defendants reject the accusation.

The charges centre around €6.7 million ($7.13 million) the DFB transferred via the world governing body FIFA to the late businessman Robert Louis-Dreyfus. The money was declared as payment for a World Cup gala which never took place.

Beckenbauer, the 2006 World Cup organizing committee chief, had received a loan of the same sum from Louis-Dreyfus in 2002, with that money ending up in an account owned by now disgraced former top FIFA official Mohammed bin Hammam of Qatar. It remains unclear what the money was for.

Beckenbauer denied ever having received a personal loan from Louis-Dreyfus during a questioning by the public prosecutor's office in 2016.

"I did not sign a promissory note," Beckenbauer said at the time, according to the hearing transcript, which was read out on Monday.

According to Beckenbauer in 2016, the money had been paid to FIFA as a kind of commission to receive a subsidy of 250 million Swiss francs ($273.38 million) from the world governing body for the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

"I had no knowledge of the payment process," Beckenbauer said back then, but admitted: "I gave a lot of blank signatures."

Hoeneß said that, despite his friendship with Beckenbauer and Louis-Dreyfus, he never spoke to either of them about the events.

"I'm only curious when it's about Bayern or myself. I didn't ask what the money was for. It was a taboo subject," he said.